Tag Archive for EPA

Natural Gas: No clean energy future

Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter’s statement on behalf of 
Americans Against Fracking

PrintWASHINGTON – February 13 – ”President Obama was right to proclaim the importance of speeding our transition to a clean energy future last night in his State of the Union Address, but natural gas has no place in that plan. The so-called natural gas boom he described is only locking us into further dependence on dirty, polluting fossil fuels, while destroying our communities and the resources on which they thrive.

“While it is encouraging to hear President Obama declare his commitment to combatting climate change, natural gas will only perpetuate this vexing issue. Extracting, transporting and burning natural gas all contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and worsen global climate change. In addition to the carbon dioxide emitted from burning natural gas, significant amounts of methane leak as new wells are fracked and as natural gas is transported. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, about 33 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over 100 years, and about 70 to 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 20 years according to a 2009 study published in Science. New evidence, including data from researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, indicates that the oil and gas industry and the Environmental Protection Agency have drastically underestimated the extent of methane emissions from drilling and fracking operations.

“President Obama needs to stand up for American communities, not the special interests of the oil and gas industry. He must reject natural gas, as well as plans to export additional supplies overseas. It is true that we need to reinvest in American communities and bolster our green energy infrastructure, but natural gas is not the bridge to a future lit by clean energy. It is, as many have said, a bridge to nowhere.

“Controlling our own energy future means investing in energies that sustain our communities, not the financial needs of the oil and gas industry.”

Americans Against Fracking is composed of nearly 200 groups.:

Vote YES on on 300

There have been many claims that the dangers of fracking have been overstated. Much of this debate has been confusing to the average citizen. A new study published in Scientific American helps explain how the confusion came about and why it continues. The study’s authors analyzed 194,000 inspection records of “Class 2” wells, also called “injection” wells, which are used to dispose of fracking waste. They also provide a brief history of the regulations guiding these inspections.

A lack of adequate oversight for Class 2 wells was written into successive legislative acts. This was a tale of two political parties, who played their parts counter to type. The original Safe Drinking Water Act was passed in 1974, during the Nixon/Ford era of Republican presidents. In 1980, Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, a liberal, sponsored legislation that allowed the oil and gas industry to bypass provisions of the Safe Water Act by choosing to be regulated by state oil and gas boards that were more lax. The EPA then attempted to bar underground dumping (injection wells) unless companies proved beforehand that their actions would not be a health threat. In response, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, a Democrat, led the fight against the EPA’s hazardous waste regulation. Congress redefined any waste that resulted from oil and gas drilling as “non-hazardous.” Voila. Injection wells became safe. From then on, benzene from the fertilizer industry was a hazardous threat to health and water supplies, but the same chemical in the oil and gas drilling process was not hazardous! This is why so many reports on injection wells say that nothing hazardous was injected into the well.

Had enough of legislative double talk? Vote yes on Ballot Question 300 to ban fracking in Longmont. Our health and our future depend on it.

Facing the truth will sustain the planet

The earth, all that sustains us, is in deep trouble. The soil, the air, the water, the creatures that sustain our ecosystem are crying out and we are afraid to hear them. Here is just one example that moved me to write today:

“In 10 to 100 years we are going to find out that most of our groundwater is polluted,” said Mario Salazar, an engineer who worked for 25 years as a technical expert with the EPA’s underground injection program in Washington. “A lot of people are going to get sick, and a lot of people may die.” (propublica.org)

So how do we enjoy our lives and the gifts many of us have and at the same time we acknowledge such facts? Indeed, it is not healthy to dwell on a constant diet of terrible facts. So there are also the facts of human kindness, the companionship and wisdom of animals and plants, and the grandeur of nature around us. To acknowledge all of this makes us whole.

It is possible to acknowledge suffering caused by climate change “elsewhere” and to other people and species. Such suffering of “others” is our own future. Looking at that squarely allows us to use a great gift humans have been given: creativity. If we have lived long enough, we have all faced terrible personal problems and most likely endured and created a better future with the help of others. So it is possible now, as we and all we love face a terrible collective future, to support each other and call on our deeper honesty, speak the truth and be creative. Let’s admit that our air, water, soil and food are being spoiled for short-term profit. Let us admit that the gifts we older people had in our lifetime will be denied to our children and grandchildren. Let’s come together and be creative.

But first we have to stop lying to ourselves.

We have to admit that our natural resources are limited. We have to admit that our politics are broken. We have to admit that our political and economic systems are fixed and when something is fixed it cannot function naturally and freely. It eventually withers and dies. We have to admit that those politicians, regardless of “party,” who do not speak and act truthfully should not have our support. Let’s admit that our current economic austerity has been manufactured.

Let’s not be afraid. Let’s rejoice that “We all do better when we all do better.” Let’s call forth our human creativity in all of our individual ways and use it collectively to sustain life on our planet.

Cory Gardner and friends cause “dust up”

In his zeal to hamstring the Environmental Protection Agency, Cory Gardner (R), Longmont’s congressional representative, created a dust-up over non-existent regulation of farm dust by the EPA.

In spite of EPA assurances that it had no plans for such regulation, the House went ahead with the vote.

Representative Diane DeGette compared the vote to the House of Representatives walking “into Alice’s Wonderland.”

And if that wasn’t sufficient, Gardner appears to have jumped on the Newt Gingrich bandwagon over child labor. Gardner, also on Thursday, authored a letter asking Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to halt proposed rules that would ban children on farms from participating in a variety of activities including operating a tractor, applying pesticides and working with livestock.

I often say of Colorado’s conservatives that they have one foot in the 1950s and the other in the 19th century. If ever proof was definitive, Gardner’s desire to put kids to work on farms sure meets that test.

Read more on the Beltway Blog.

Cory Gardner fights against environmental protection

Cory Gardner, anti-environment

To the delight of American industrialists and their friends in the GOP, freshman U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner (CO-District 4) appears determined to erode as much of the regulatory authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as he is able.

The EPA was born during the term of Richard Nixon, based on a 1970 memorandum of the President’s Advisory Council on Executive Organization, “Federal Organization for Environmental Protection.” If the GOP was aware of the need for federal regulations on polluting industries in 1970, how much more are those regulations necessary in our resource-depleting and waste-generating consumerist culture of 2011?

The memorandum recognized that “The economic progress which we have come to expect, or even demand, has almost invariably been at some cost to the environment.” It states that “Some means must be found by which our economic and social aspirations are balanced against the finite capacity of the environment to absorb society’s wastes.”

Before Mr. Gardner goes too far in his personal tirade against the EPA, I suggest that he, and the GOP leadership, should learn what was recognized in 1970 regarding the “finite capacity of the environment to absorb society’s wastes.” His zeal against environmental regulations is not only misguided and misinformed, it is downright dangerous.